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Options Dwindling For Mars Spirit Rover
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '10 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shouldn't-have-let-your-AAA-account-lapse deptartment:
coondoggie writes "NASA says it is narrowing a short list of things its scientists can do to extricate its stuck Mars Spirit rover. They are exploring a couple remaining options, such as driving backwards and using Spirit's robotic arm to sculpt the ground directly in front of the left-front wheel, the only working wheel the arm can reach. The amount of energy that Spirit harvests each day, however, is declining, as autumn days shorten on southern Mars. 'At the current rate of dust accumulation, solar arrays at zero tilt would provide barely enough energy to run the survival heaters through the Mars winter solstice.' NASA is currently analyzing results of a Jan. 13th attempt to move the spacecraft that involved a very slow rotation of the wheels. Earlier drives in the past two weeks using wheel wiggles and slow wheel rotation produced negligible progress toward extricating Spirit, NASA stated."

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What Clown On a Unicycle?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '10 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's walking-into-stationary-objects deptartment:
R3d M3rcury writes "The New York Times has an article about walking and using a cellphone. 'The era of the mobile gadget is making mobility that much more perilous, particularly on crowded streets and in downtown areas where multiple multitaskers veer and swerve and walk to the beat of their own devices.' But the interesting part was an experiment run by the University of Western Washington this past fall. There was a student who knew how to ride a unicycle and a professor who had a clown suit. They dressed a student up as a clown and had him ride his unicycle around a popular campus square. Then they asked people, 'Did you see the Unicycling Clown?' 71% of the people walking in pairs said that they had. 51% of the people walking alone said that they had. But only 25% of the people talking on a cellphone said that they saw the unicycling clown. On the other hand, when asked 'Did you see anything unusual?' only about one person in three mentioned a unicycling clown. So maybe unicycling clowns aren't enough of a distraction at the University of Western Washington..."

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James Cameron On How Avatar Technology Could Keep Actors Young
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '10 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hollywood-can't-wait-to-abuse-this deptartment:
Suki I writes "An article at EW discusses another use for Avatar's sophisticated motion-capture technology: 'Sure, it's terrific for turning human actors into big blue alien Na'vis. But the photorealistic CGI technology James Cameron perfected for Avatar could easily be used for other, even more mind-blowing purposes — like, say, bringing Humphrey Bogart back to life, or making Clint Eastwood look 35 again. "How about another Dirty Harry movie where Clint looks the way he looked in 1975?" Cameron suggests. "Or a James Bond movie where Sean Connery looks the way he did in Doctor No? How cool would that be?"' The article goes on to quote Cameron as saying you would still need actors to play the roles, and that an ethical line needs to be drawn somewhere."

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Programming With Proportional Fonts?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '10 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-that's-wild-and-crazy deptartment:
theodp writes "Betty or Veronica? Mary Ann or Ginger? Proportional or Monospaced? There's renewed interest in an old blog post by Maas-Maarten Zeeman, in which M-MZ made the case for programming with proportional fonts, citing studies that show proportional fonts can be read 14% faster than fixed-width fonts. Try it for a couple of weeks, he suggests, and you might like it too. Nowadays, Lucida Grande is M-MZ's font of choice on OS X, and he uses Lucida Sans on Windows. Helvetica, anyone?"

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Another Attack, On Law Firm Suing China
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '10 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pounding deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "In the wake of the attack on Google, another company claims to be the victim of a similar attack. Gipson Hoffman & Pancione is a Los Angeles law firm whose client, CYBERsitter, is suing the government of China and several Chinese companies for using their intellectual property in the infamous Green Dam censorship filter. According to the firm, they have been targeted by a spear phishing attack from China." Relatedly, smartaleckkill writes with news that the US state department is to formally protest to China over the alleged cyber-attacks on Google, "likely early next week."

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Another Attack, On Law Firm Suing China
Posted by News Fetcher on January 17 '10 at 01:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pounding deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "In the wake of the attack on Google, another company claims to be the victim of a similar attack. Gipson Hoffman & Pancione is a Los Angeles law firm whose client, CYBERsitter is suing the government of China and several Chinese companies for using their intellectual property in the infamous Green Dam censorship filter. According to the firm, they have been targeted by a spear phishing attack from China." Relatedly, smartaleckkill writes with news that the US state department is to formally protest to China over the alleged cyber-attacks on Google, "likely early next week."

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Apple Seeks To Ban Nokia Imports To US
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 10:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's let's-take-this-outside-the-country deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Cnet reports that the ongoing patent battle between Apple and Nokia has escalated with Apple moving to block imports of Nokia cell phones to the US by filing a complaint with the International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency that examines issues including unfair trade practices involving patent, trademark, and copyright infringement. In December, Nokia filed its own complaint with the USITC alleging that Apple infringes seven Nokia patents 'in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, and computers' and sought to ban imports of Apple's iPhone, iPod, and MacBook products. Responding to Apple's latest move, Nokia spokesman Mark Durrant told Bloomberg that 'Nokia will study the complaint when it is received and continue to defend itself vigorously. However this does not alter the fact that Apple has failed to agree appropriate terms for using Nokia technology and has been seeking a free ride on Nokia's innovation since it shipped the first iPhone in 2007.' An ITC investigation is a lengthy process, but it's possible that Apple and Nokia might reach some sort of settlement as suits continue to escalate between the two companies."

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Providing a Closed Source License Upon Request?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 07:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-don't-close-others'-open-source deptartment:
goruka writes "As a citizen of the open source community, I have written several applications and libraries and released under the BSD license. Because of my license choice, I often run into the situation where a company wants to write software for a closed platform using my code or libraries. Even though there should be no restrictions on usage, companies very often request a different license citing as a valid reason that the creator of such platform has special terms forbidding 'open source software' in the contracts forced upon the developer. So my question is, has anyone else run into this situation, and are there examples of such licenses that I can provide? (Please keep in mind that I'm not a US resident and I don't have access or resources to afford a lawyer there.)"

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The FBI's Newest Tool — Google Images
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-could-possibly-go-wrong deptartment:
lee317 writes "The FBI recently used a photograph of Spanish politician Gaspar Llamazares as an example of what Osama Bin Laden might look like today. According to Reuters,Special Agent Jason Pack said a forensic artist had been unable to find suitable features from the FBI's database of photographs and used a picture from the Internet instead. That photo turned out to be one of Llamazares, who apparently looks strikingly similar to what the FBI thinks Bin Laden would look like with a few extra years on him. 'I am stupefied the FBI has used my photo — but it could have been anyone's — to compose a picture of a terrorist. It affects my honor, my own image and also the security of all us,' Llamazares said."

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AMD Delivers DX11 Graphics Solution For Under $100
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's does-not-improve-c64-aztec deptartment:
Vigile points out yesterday's launch of "the new AMD Radeon HD 5670, the first graphics card to bring DirectX 11 support to the sub-$100 market and offer next-generation features to almost any budget. The Redwood part (as it was codenamed) is nearly 3.5x smaller in die size than the first DX11 GPUs from AMD while still offering support for DirectCompute 5.0, Eyefinity multi-monitor gaming and of course DX11 features (like tessellation) in upcoming Windows gaming titles. Unfortunately, performance on the card is not revolutionary even for the $99 graphics market, though power consumption has been noticeably lowered while keeping the card well cooled in a single-slot design."

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Italy Floats Official Permission Requirement for Web Video Uploads
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 02:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's state-v.-man deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with some bad news from Italy, writing that new rules proposed there would "require people who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorization from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to communicate over the Web." Understandably, some say such controls represent a conflict of interest for Silvio Berlusconi, "who exercises political control over the state broadcaster RAI in his role as prime minister and is also the owner of Italy's largest private broadcaster, Mediaset."

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Police Called Over 11-Year-Old's Science Project
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 02:02 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's duck-and-cover deptartment:
garg0yle writes "Police in San Diego were called to investigate an 11-year-old's science project, consisting of 'a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics,' after the vice-principal came to the conclusion that it was a bomb. Charges aren't being laid against the youth, but it's being recommended that he and his family 'get counseling.' Apparently, the student violated school policies — I'm assuming these are policies against having any kind of independent thought?"

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Sandy, Utah Tops US Cities For Broadband Speed
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's short-hop-to-awesome-slc-library deptartment:
darthcamaro writes "If want to live in a city with fastest average broadband connection speed in the US you have to move to Utah. According to Akamai's latest State of the Internet Report, Sandy, Utah, is at the top of the list for US cities with the fastest average broadband speeds, with an average connection speed of 33,464 Kbps (33.5 Mbps). Overall in the US, the average broadband connection speed in the third quarter of 2009 came in at 3.9 Mbps, down by 2.4 percent on a year-over-year basis, but that's not a major cause for concern in Akamai's view. 'The overall year-over-year decline in the US average connection speed was relatively minor,' report author David Belson, director of market intelligence at Akamai Technologies said. 'The larger year-over-year sample base may have contributed to the decline, especially as mobile usage grows.'"

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MiFi Attack Exploits GPS To Reveal User's Location
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wish-it-was-easy-for-non-attackers deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Security researcher Adam Baldwin has identified that the Sprint and Verizon MiFi devices are vulnerable to a multitude of attacks. Combining these attacks together, an attacker can gain the GPS location of the MiFi device without the user becoming immediately aware. The attack can be successfully executed without authentication and even if the GPS has been disabled by the administrator." There's a video, but a handy text summary, too. Upshot: "Any MiFi user that visits a specially crafted page will give up their GPS location to the attacker."

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CMU Web-Scraping Learns English, One Word At a Time
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hao-ubowt-hahmnimz deptartment:
blee37 writes "Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a web-scraping AI program that never dies. It runs continuously, extracting information from the web and using that information to learn more about the English language. The idea is for a never ending learner like this to one day be able to become conversant in the English language." It's not that the program couldn't stop running; the idea is that there's no fixed end-point. Rather, its progress in categorizing complex word relationships is the object of the research. See also CMU's "Read the Web" research project site.

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Own Your Own Fighter Jet
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's only-one-on-the-block deptartment:
gimmebeer writes "The Russian Sukhoi SU-27 has a top speed of Mach 1.8 (more than 1,300 mph) and has a thrust to weight ratio greater than 1 to 1. That means it can accelerate while climbing straight up. It was designed to fight against the best the US had to offer, and now it can be yours for the price of a mediocre used business jet."

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China Begins Monitoring Billions of Text Messages
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that-would-be-a-terrible-job deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "The Telegraph is reporting that China has begun monitoring 'billions of text messages' in order to increase censorship. However, a People's Daily article claims they only monitor users who have been reported, and only shut down their message service if the complaints are true. Anything considered pornographic will require the user to bring a letter of guarantee to the local public security bureau promising to never again send such messages before service can be reactivated."

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RIAA Wants Limits On Net Neutrality So ISPs Can Police File Sharing
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-least-they're-consistent deptartment:
Presto Vivace writes "Reporting for Computer World, Grant Gross writes that the RIAA is asking the FCC not to make the net neutrality rules so strict that they 'would limit broadband providers' flexibly to "address" illegal online file sharing.' It seems the RIAA is unclear on the concept of the Fourth Amendment. 'The FCC should not only avoid rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking illegal file trading, but it should actively encourage ISPs to do so, the RIAA said. ... Other groups called on the FCC to stay out of the copyright enforcement business. If ISPs are required to check for copyright infringement, they could interfere with legal online activities, said six digital rights and business groups, including Public Knowledge, the Consumer Electronics Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.'"

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Spectrum of Light Captured From Distant World
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-are-you-made-of deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Cosmos: "Astronomers have made the first direct capture of a spectrum of light from a planet outside the Solar System and are deciphering its composition. The light was snared from a giant planet that orbits a bright young star called HR 8799 about 130 light-years from Earth, said the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ... The find is important, because hidden within a light spectrum are clues about the relative amounts of different elements in the planet's atmosphere. 'The features observed in the spectrum are not compatible with current theoretical models,' said co-author Wolfgang Brandner. 'We need to take into account a more detailed description of the atmospheric dust clouds, or accept that the atmosphere has a different chemical composition from that previously assumed.' The result represents a milestone in the search for life elsewhere in the universe, said the ESO. Until now, astronomers have been able to get only an indirect light sample from an exoplanet, as worlds beyond our Solar System are called. They do this by measuring the spectrum of a star twice — while an orbiting exoplanet passes near to the front of it, and again while the planet is directly behind it. The planet's spectrum is thus calculated by subtracting one light sample from another."

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Protecting At-Risk Cities From Rising Seas
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '10 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's steal-moses'-superpowers deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that with about 10 million people in England and Wales living in flood risk areas, rising sea levels and more storms could mean that parts of at-risk cities will need to be surrendered to protect homes and businesses, and that 'radical thinking' is needed to develop sea defenses that can cope with the future threats. 'If we act now, we can adapt in such a way that will prevent mass disruption and allow coastal communities to continue to prosper,' says Ruth Reed, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects. 'But the key word is "now."' Changing sea levels is not a new phenomenon. In the Netherlands, for example, with 40% of its surface under sea level, water management and water defense have been practiced since time immemorial; creating mounds and dykes, windmills, canals with locks and sluices, the Delta Works and the Afsluitdijk, all to keep the water out. Similar solutions to protect British cities are based on three themes (PDF): moving 'critical infrastructure' and housing to safer ground, allowing the water into parts of the city; building city-wide sea defenses to ensure water does not enter the existing urban area; and extending the existing coastline and building out onto the water (using stilts, floating structures and/or land reclamation)."

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